Greed’s good in ‘Ten ‘Til Noon’

Special to The Times

“Ten ‘Til Noon” is a triumph of ingenuity over budget, a taut, darkly comic thriller with a dart of pathos that holds attention like Super Glue from the first frame to the last. It is writer Paul Osborne’s first produced screenplay and director Scott Storm’s second feature -- the first was the well-reviewed yet unreleased 1998 film “Burn,” a bleak fable of survival in Hollywood.

In any event, everything here is top-notch -- on-the-money ensemble cast, apt locations, Alice Brooks’ gleaming camerawork, Joe Kraemer’s intense score and Kalman Alexander’s razor-sharp editing. It’s a class act financed on a shoestring.

The perverse workings of fate drive many a movie, but here it is plain old greed, set in motion most unexpectedly by a crook’s drastic expression of love. “Ten ‘Til Noon,” however, leaves the viewer with the strong feeling that ultimately passion is not going to be much of a match for greed. Each of its tightly interconnected six segments, involving 10 key figures, is literally a power play, with one individual exerting control over others with either money or a gun or both.


A jet-lagged computer technology tycoon (Rick D. Wasserman) is awakened in his spacious Malibu bedroom by a philosophical professional assassin (Alfonso Freeman) and his mute assistant (Jenya Lano). Along with comments on the uncertainties of the post 9/11 world, the assassin mentions that at this very moment the tycoon’s wife (Rayne Guest) is having a strenuous hotel-room tryst with a hunky young man (Jason Hamer), which becomes the second sequence. The third reveals the tryst to be under surveillance by a couple of comical loser types (Daniel Hagen and Dylan Kussman -- the latter, incidentally, wrote the script for “Burn”) who are turned on by what they are recording. They are in the employ of the ruthless Mr. Duke (Thomas Kopache), who in turn reports to the even more ruthless Leo (George Williams). Daniel Nathan Spector plays the hapless man who is the connection between the tycoon and Leo.

Each of the film’s segments unfolds simultaneously over a 10-minute period, and the resulting layering effect, heightened by considerable deft referencing of one segment to another, evokes a sense of being caught up in an ever-expanding conspiracy beyond comprehension, keyed to the value of the stock in the tycoon’s company.

Consistently imaginative and unpredictable, “Ten ‘Til Noon” is yet another reminder of Southern California’s vast pool of acting talent. None of the actors in the film is well known, yet each delivers expertly. Those attracted to movies with only big-name casts don’t realize what they could be missing.

“Ten ‘Til Noon.” Unrated. Violence, sex, language. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. Exclusively at the Sunset 5, 8400 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 848-3500.